PCB, Shaheen Afridi hold crisis talks after furore over statements

Pakistan’s captaincy saga has been plunged into fresh crisis, with Shaheen Afridi he is believed to be furious over a statement on the PCB website bearing quotes attributed to him what he didn’t say. According to ESPNcricinfo, Afridi was about to make a statement to this effect, but the PCB held emergency talks with him. Another hastily arranged meeting with PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi will take place on Monday.
Afridi, it seems, is completely unimpressed with the way he has been treated throughout this period. U-turn of the captaincy, was not asked by the PCB to provide a statement for use in a press release. However, a few hours later Babar Azam was renamed captain, a press release was issued in which Shaheen pledged his full support to Babar Azam as captain and said it was “an honor” to lead Pakistan.

“I will always cherish the memories and the opportunity,” the statement attributed to Afridi said. “As a team player, it is my duty to support our captain, Babar Azam. I have played under his captaincy and I have nothing but respect for him. I will try to help him on and off the field. We are all one. Our goal is the same: to help Pakistan become the best team in the world.”

Afridi is said to have contributed nothing to this statement, and this latest flare-up is expected to further inflame tensions in a Pakistani camp where unity has been severely tested by the CPC’s repeated flip-flops over the national captaincy. The writing has been on the wall for Afridi since Naqvi refused to back him at a press conference in Lahore on Sunday, saying that at that point a decision would be taken after the end of the training camp. Pakistan with the army. But it appears that the decision to sack him was then already close to being finalized.

It is understood Shaheen does not feel he has been fully explained why he was replaced in the first place, and is frustrated by the lack of communication from the PCB. And the CPC’s attempt to assuage any lingering resentment by issuing a statement in which Babar and Shaheen exchanged warm words only fanned the flames.

The manner in which the captaincy was transferred from Shaheen to Babar is inevitably likely to strain relations between arguably Pakistan cricket’s two biggest stars. The two have enjoyed a close relationship over the years, with Shaheen publicly supporting Babar’s captaincy last year, at a time when he was seen as under threat.

But now, Afridi’s displeasure is forcing the PCB to go into damage control mode and will have to look for the least combustible route out of this sticky situation. Naqvi and the PCB should attempt to placate him and dissipate any simmering resentment about the whole affair, although it remains to be seen to what extent they will succeed.

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